Teaching his disciples, Jesus explained, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”
Harvard professor Arthur Brooks, a conservative thinker, echoed those words from Matthew 5 during his keynote address Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., describing what he called the “crisis of contempt and polarization” plaguing the country on the heels of the U.S. Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, who was acquitted Wednesday.
Amidst such deep division, Brooks urged those gathered for the breakfast to “love your enemies” — a three-word prompt given by Jesus himself.
The president, though, wasn’t so sure of the admonition.
“I don’t know if I agree with you,” said Trump, responding to Brooks.
Trump then set his sights on Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who on Wednesday became the lone Republican lawmaker to vote in support of one of the two articles of impeachment against the president, abuse of power.
“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,” said Trump, seemingly taking a swipe at Romney, a Mormon, who explained from the floor of the Senate this week that it was his faith that guided his difficult decision-making process regarding the president’s divisive impeachment trial.
It’s worth noting Romney is now the only U.S. senator in history to vote for the removal of a president belonging to his own political party.
As for Trump, he also appeared to take a jab at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was seated five chairs down from the president as he spoke.
He told those gathered for the event Thursday morning that he doesn’t like “people who say, ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that that’s not so.” Trump was likely referring to Pelosi’s repeated refrain that, though she disagrees with the president and harbors political animosity toward him, she often prays for him.
The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., sided with his father in a tweet posted Thursday morning. In it, he wrote, the “likelihood of Nancy Pelosi praying for Trump is about the same as the likelihood of Satan running around quoting the Scriptures.”
The president’s comments about Pelosi came after his State of the Union address Tuesday night. At the conclusion of his speech, Pelosi stood up and proceeded to rip up a transcript of the president’s remarks.
Asked later by reporters about her decision to tear the president’s speech, Pelosi replied, “It was the courteous thing to do considering the alternative.”
I’m just going to go out on a limb and say every politician in Washington could learn a lesson from Jesus’ words in Matthew 5.